Review of Barbara Brundage’s Photoshop Elements 6 The Missing Manual
I don’t do Manuals!!!
As soon as I start reading technical instructions my eyes start to glaze over and roll back in my head.
Which is why I was surprised that a book titled Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual was so easy to read.
Now this isn’t a book which you necessarily need to read from cover to cover. Although you should at least read the comprehensive introduction section which gives a good overview of Photoshop Elements and explains how the book is set up so you can get the best value from it.
Oh, and by the way, I am doing this review from the perspective of a Digital Scrapbooker
Part 1 Introduction to Elements
This section covers such topics as
- Finding you way around Elements
- Importing, managing and saving your files
- Rotating and resizing your photos
Experienced Photoshop Elements users will probably skim this section but I would recommend checking out the blue coloured sidebars which are scattered through out the book as they can highlight some of the differences between this PSE version and previous versions.
Also they’re very handy for power user tips that you may not have previously known about.
And of course, new Photoshop Elements Users will find a treasure trove of helpful information to get them started using the program
Part 2 – Essential Elements
The focus areas of this section are
- Using the Quick Fix Tools
- Making selections
- Using Layers
Photoshop Elements 6 The Missing Manual takes you on a tour of the Quick Fix Toolbox and Control Panel, not only showing you how to use them but also what their pros, cons and limitations are. So you can make your own call as to whether you need to use the quick and easy tools or the ones which take more time but give you more control.
I found the Making Selections section really helpful and easy to understand. There are several ways to make selections in Photoshop Elements and sometimes it can be confusing which method to choose and why. I appreciated the clarity that Barbara has brought to this topic.
And of course understanding how to use Layers is the core of Photoshop Elements. A lot of the layer management instruction will be familiar stuff to those who have been Photoshop Elements Users for some time, but there are still some great golden nuggets in the Power Users’ Clinic sidebars scattered throughout the section.
Part 3 Retouching
Topics covered in this section include:
- Basic image retouching
- Elements for digital photographers
- Retouching: fine tuning your images
- Removing and adding colour
- Photomerge: creating panoramas, group shots etc.
Photoshop Elements comes with a bucket load of tools to enhance, improve, optimise and alter your photos. For many of us, we only use a small handful of them; largely because we don’t know how to use the others to get the best results. Photoshop Elements 6 The Missing Manual takes you through these tools explaining what they do and how you can use them. Colour illustrations of before and after help you to appreciate the results and recognise where you might use these tools with your own photos.
I think we all tend to have a favourite way of doing a particular optimisation technique. But there are many ways to be ‘right’ with Photoshop Elements and learning some alternative techniques can really enhance your ability to lift your digital scrapbook layouts to the next level.
Part 4 Artistic Elements
So many funky things for digital scrapbookers in this section
- Drawing with brushes, shapes and other tools
- Filters, effects, layer styles and gradients
- Type in Elements
This is the section which takes your digital scrapbooking to the next level. Understanding how to use these tools will let you create fabulous scrapbook layouts and add your ‘extra’ touches to the digital elements that you download from the Internet.
And using these tools you can create your own digital scrapbooking elements. Very cool.
Photoshop Elements 6 The Missing Manual is peppered with colour illustrations that help you to understand the instructions on how to use these tools and get the best out of them. I do appreciate this as I tend to be a visual person and good illustrations reinforce the message for me.
And once again, the section has plenty of extra golden nuggets of information in the sidebars throughout it.
Part 5 Sharing your images
This section looks at
- Creating projects
- Printing photos
- Uploading to the Web
- Online galleries, sideshows and Flipbooks
So basically the focus of this section is the different ways in which you can display and share your digital scrapbooking works of art.
There are a multitude of different ways in which you can save and display your digital scrapbooking layouts. For most of us we tend to just use the native PSD format so we can revisit and edit our layout, a JPG save-for-the-web format so we can upload to our blog or online galleries, and maybe a larger JPG file that we can email to friends or print out.
Instructions for how to do these things are included in Photoshop Elements 6 The Missing Manual, but also creating photo collages, photo books, slideshows and DVD labels.
Part 6 Additional Elements
This is the ‘Beyond the Basics’ section.
It looks at using graphics tablets with Photoshop Elements and adding layer styles, shapes and actions to Elements
Part 7 Appendixes
This section has some really handy ‘quick find’ indexes for the Photoshop Elements Organizer and Editor. A quick delve into the Appendix and you won’t need to flap around your menus, clicking on everything trying to find where the command you need is. Very useful.
To Sum Up
- Easy to read style without ‘techie talk’
- Very good colour illustrations throughout the book to make understanding easier.
- Love the sidebar system which highlights special information for different levels of expertise.
- Useful segmenting of information in the Sections so you can easily find the relevant info that you need quickly.
- Definitely an improvement on software manuals, which usually either tell you nothing of value or too much stuff that you can’t understand.
- Not much in the ‘bad’ department. I tend not to review things that I think are no good.
- Size of the book (about 2″ thick) may be a bit daunting to first time Photoshop Elements users. But no alternative if you want all the information.
- I did feel that Part 6 Additional Elements was a little on the lightweight side though.
- I have a major issue with the Photoshop Elements 6 charcoal coloured interface. As someone who has poor contrast vision I find it difficult to see. This of course translates into the screen shot photos in the book, which are from Photoshop Elements 6.
Can I see myself using this book many many times?
I’ve already got a forest of stick-it notes bristling out of its pages.
And if you’ve bought Photoshop Elements 6, tried to use the manual to help you understand the use of all its features, and given up in disgust, I recommend you check out Photoshop Elements 6: The Missing Manual.
It would be a pity to have all that power and not be able to tap into it.
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